Publications & Talks

BRENNAN CENTER: The hurdles that 1 in 10 eligible voters will have to face to obtain a voter ID

October 17, 2012
Keesha Gaskins and Sundeep Iyer

Originally published on July 17, 2012

Ten states now have unprecedented restrictive voter ID laws. Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin all require citizens to produce specific types of government-issued photo identification before they can cast a vote that will count. Legal precedent requires these states to provide free photo ID to eligible voters who do not have one. Unfortunately, these free IDs are not equally accessible to all voters. This report is the first comprehensive assessment of the difficulties that eligible voters face in obtaining free photo ID.

View the PDF version here.

BRENNAN CENTER: 2012 voting laws will make it more difficult for 5 million racial minorities, students, renters, seniors, and low income citizens to vote

October 17, 2012
Wendy R. Weiser and Lawrence Norden

In the past two years, states across the country passed a wave of laws that could make it harder to vote. The Brennan Center chronicled these laws in our report, Voting Law Changes in 2012 (originally published on October 3, 2011)

UPDATED 10/16/2012: Voting Laws in effect for the 2012 election

Fourteen states have passed restrictive voting laws and executive actions that have the potential to impact the 2012 election, representing 185 electoral votes, or 68 percent of the total needed to win the presidency.

A breakdown of laws and executive actions in effect in 2012:

Voter advocacy groups look at how prepared states are to ensure that our votes are counted

October 17, 2012
Pamela Smith, Michelle Mulder, Susannah Goodman

This report reviews how prepared each state is to ensure that every eligible voter can vote, and that every
vote is counted as cast. Because we cannot predict where machines will fail during the upcoming national
election, every state should be as prepared as possible for system failures.

The Verified Voting Foundation, the Rutgers Law School Newark Constitutional Litigation Clinic and
Common Cause surveyed states’ voting equipment and ranked the states according to their preparedness.
The rankings are based on how states laws and practices compare to a set of best practices already being
used in some places.

BRENNAN CENTER: Electronic voting machines record higher rates of residual votes among poor and racial minority populations

October 16, 2012
Lawrence Norden, Jeremy M. Creelan, David Kimball, Whitney Quesenbery

Originally published August 28, 2006

On August 28, 2006, the Brennan Center released a report and policy proposals regarding the performance of various voting systems and their ability to allow voters to cast valid ballots that reflect their intended choices without undue delay or burdens. This system quality is known as usability. Following several high-profile controversies in the last few elections including most notoriously, the 2000 controversy over the butterfly ballot in Palm Beach voting system usability is a subject of utmost concern to voters and election officials.

BRENNAN CENTER: States put more restrictions on community-based voter registration drives

August 21, 2012
Diana Kasdan

At a time when political operatives are trying to make it harder for some Americans to participate in the democratic process, community voter registration drives continue to increase the numbers of eligible Americans registered to vote. But, in recent years, state legislatures have attempted to make it harder for voter registration drives to operate. More than half of the states have some laws governing community-based voter registration drives. State Restrictions on Voter Registration Drives is the first comprehensive review of those laws.

Stealing America: Vote by Vote

July 11, 2012
Concentric Media

A groundbreaking feature-length documentary made after the 2004 election about the enormous security flaws present in the machines that count our votes, and why only hand-counted paper ballots can protect our democracy. 

For related reading see the book Brave New Ballot.

MANSKI: The Protest Wave: Why the Political Class Can’t Understand Our Demands

October 3, 2011
Ben Manski

The protests that began in Wisconsin this year, and which now also fill the streets of Manhattan, Boston, Chicago, and this week, Washington D.C., have gotten the attention of the American political class. And how could they not? 2011 is becoming a remake of the 1999 Battle of Seattle, except this time the protests are ongoing, national and global, and the target is not just the World Trade Organization, but the entire edifice of corporate capitalism.

UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT: ES&S optical scan machines prone to loss of data due to battery failures

October 8, 2010
Tigran Antonyan, Nicolas Nicolaou, Alexander A. Shvartsman, Therese Smith

Abstract

Optical scan (OS) voting systems play an increasing role in the United States elections, with over 40 states deploying such systems. The AccuVote optical scanners (AV-OS) manufactured by ES&S account for over 20% of all OS systems. OS systems typically use removable media (cards) to provide election-specific programming to the scanners and to convey precinct election results for central tabulation. Several reports document occurrences of AV-OS memory card failures, with up to 15% of all cards failing in some cases.

PEW CENTER: Higher rates of residual votes found in Florida among African-American, Hispanic, and senior voters

October 1, 2010
Paul Gronke, Charles Stewart III, James Hicks

This report describes a project that examined the residual vote rates in the state of Florida’s 2008 presidential preference primary, taking advantage of a state law that, for a time, required all jurisdictions to report over- and under-votes at the precinct level.

John Bonifaz and Laura Flanders on the Corporate Supreme Court

April 15, 2010
John Bonifaz and Laura Flanders

GRIT tv host Laura Flanders takes up the topic of the Supreme Court, corporate power, and the Citizens United ruling. Guest John Bonifaz, the director of Free Speech for People discusses the results we're already seeing from that ruling, how it impacts corporations, unions, and real flesh-and-blood people, (including how it has already impacted our thinking) and what needs to be done. Bonifaz explains how we can amend the Constitution to reclaim our first amendment, and the kind of popular movement that will be required to do it. He describes what people are doing at the local level in their free time to advance this agenda. (Discussion begins at 10:22)

Additional Information: 

Originally posted here by David Swanson of After Downing Street.

VIDEO: March to Overrule the Court

February 16, 2010
Ben Manski and Lisa Graves

UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT: Statewide audit of optical scan machines

November 18, 2009
Tigran Antonyan, Seda Davtyan, Sotirios Kentros, Aggelos Kiayias, Laurent Michel, Nicolas Nicolaou, Alexander Russell, and Alexander A. Shvartsman

Abstract

Document: 

FRIEDMAN: Democracy's Gold Standard

September 14, 2009
Brad Friedman

Last March, the country's highest court found that secret, computerized vote counting was unconstitutional. Unfortunately, the country was Germany, and the Constitution violated by e-voting systems was the one that the U.S. wrote and insisted Germans ratify as part of their terms of surrender following WWII.

Paul Lehto, a U.S. election attorney and Constitutional rights expert, summarized the German court's unambiguous, landmark finding:

"No 'specialized technical knowledge' can be required of citizens to vote or to monitor vote counts."
There is a "constitutional requirement of a publicly observed count."

La FOLLETTE: July 4, 1897 on the Dangers Threatening Representative Government

July 4, 2009
Bob La Follette

Location: Mineral Point, Wisconsin

VIDEO: Manski, Farsetta, Alexander Gray on Extending Democracy

May 2, 2009

Founded in 1909 as La Follette's Weekly, on May 1-2, 2009, The Progressive magazine celebrated its 100th anniversary with a major conference and festival. Major speakers included Robert Redford, Amy Goodman, Naomi Klein, Barbara Ehrenreich, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and the editorial staff of the Progressive Magazine. Liberty Tree's Ben Manski, together with various members of Liberty Tree's Board of Directors and Board of Advisors -- John Nichols and Robert McChesney, among them -- also spoke at this exciting event. Following is Ben Manski's contribution:

VIDEO: Manski, Farsetta, Alexander Gray on Extending Democracy

May 1, 2009

Location:
Madison, Wisconsin

Founded in 1909 as La Follette's Weekly, on May 1-2, 2009, The Progressive magazine celebrated its 100th anniversary with a major conference and festival. Major speakers included Robert Redford, Amy Goodman, Naomi Klein, Barbara Ehrenreich, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and the editorial staff of the Progressive Magazine. Liberty Tree's Ben Manski, together with various members of Liberty Tree's Board of Directors and Board of Advisors -- John Nichols and Robert McChesney, among them -- also spoke at this exciting event. Following is Ben Manski's contribution:

Prospects for Participatory Democracy in the U.S.A

December 1, 2008
Ben Manski

Location: Barcelona, Spain Presented at the International Seminar on Participatory Democracy "Participatory Democracy. Political Actors and Social Movements" Abstract Diagnosing Democratic Collapse The U.S. political system suffers from a potentially fatal condition, a malady that can be diagnosed as "Democratic Collapse." The causes of this collapse are known: First, the consolidation of corporate control of the establishment political parties. Second, the sacrilegious enshrinement of corporations as persons under law, entitled to constitutional protections against citizens and governments.

Additional Information: 

Ben Manski is a Fellow with the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution in its Local Democracy and Democratizing Education program areas. He served as Co-Chair of the Green Party of the United States from 2001 through 2004, and was active in the U.S. student, labor, peace, and environmental movements throughout the 1990s. Ben has a degree in law from the University of Wisconsin, and has written on the corporatization of higher education in the United States.

NICHOLS: Special Report on the 2008 Elections

November 5, 2008
John Nichols

This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change.
And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. ~ Barack Obama
<

~ NOVEMBER 5, 2008 ~

Additional Information: 

John Nichols is the Washington correspondent for The Nation magazine.
He is also a member of the Liberty Tree Board of Directors.

MANSKI: The New U.S. Democracy Movement

October 9, 2008
Ben Manski

Around the world, Americans are often maligned as self-serving, ignorant, and conservative. Yet Americans are generally a progressive people.

Public opinion research tells the story:

  • Most Americans favor creating a federal universal single payer health care system.
  • Most support trade policies based not on property rights, but human rights, environmental protection, and popular sovereignty.
  • Majorities believe that the U.S. should not act as the “world’s police force,” and large majorities support the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
  • Americans, by and large, believe that access to quality education is a basic right, and are willing to raise taxes to pay for it.

Additional Information: 

This article was written for Movement Vision Lab. Click here for the original edition.
~ Ben Manski is a Wisconsin attorney and the executive director of Liberty Tree

Advancement Project: Several Battleground States Not Prepared for Voter Turnout

October 9, 2008

Our recent Action Alert on fighting shortages of volunteers and voting machines focuses on the election officials and administrators of particular states that have been identified as likely problems. Advancement Project has released a poignant study detailing the failures of 7 specific swing states that will not have adequate capacity in terms of voting machines and volunteers to meet the expected record voter turnout for the upcoming Presidential election. Their release of this information follows....

SEVERAL BATTLEGROUND STATES NOT PREPARED FOR VOTER TURNOUT

Additional Information: 

For more information, feel free to contact Sabrina Williams (202/728-9557 or 305/904-3960) or Tia Gordon (202/728-9557 or 202/906-0149)

Brennan Center for Justice: Voter Purges

September 30, 2008
Myrna Pérez

Voter suppression most often comes in the form of keeping voters from showing up at the polls or perhaps providing faulty information on how to process an absentee ballot, etc. A greater disenfranchisement might be the voters who dutifully present themselves at their polling place, only to be told that they have been removed from the voter rolls.

Additional Information: 

Myrna Pérez is counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, focusing on a variety of voting rights and election administration issues including the Brennan Center’s efforts to restore the vote to people with felony convictions. Prior to joining the Center, Ms. Pérez was the Civil Rights Fellow at Relman & Dane, a civil rights law firm in Washington, D.C. A graduate of Columbia Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Ms. Pérez clerked for the Honorable Anita B. Brody of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and for the Honorable Julio M. Fuentes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Making Voting Work: An Analysis of Military and Overseas Citzen Voting

September 15, 2008

The most recent effort by Making Voting Work looks into perhaps the most tragic of uncounted voting demographics--troops overseas. Many states have offered excuses again and again about not being able to make the absentee ballot process work for due to failures in the military postal system. The most recent report of Military Overseas Voting Project.

Liberty Tree Panel at Claim Democracy Conference

November 1, 2007
Brandon Lacy Campos, David Cobb, and Patrick Barrett

Click here to view the video:

2007 Claim Democracy Conference

Measure T Bans Corporate Campaign Financing

September 3, 2007
Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap

In 2006, Humboldt County, California, became the latest, and largest, jurisdiction to abolish the legal doctrine known as “corporate personhood.”

Measure T was successful because our all-volunteer campaign came together to pass a law that bans non-local corporations from participating in Humboldt elections. The referendum, which passed with 55 percent of the vote, also asserts that corporations cannot claim the First Amendment right to free speech.

By enacting Measure T, Humboldt County has committed an act of “municipal civil disobedience,” intentionally challenging “settled law.” But voters also recognize that Measure T is an act of common sense. We polled our community and found that 78 percent believe corruption is more likely if corporations participate in politics.

Additional Information: 

See more articles from the Fall 2007 issue of Yes Magazine and learn about what other communities are doing to stand up to corporate power.
Learn more about Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County and Measure T.

The 2006 Mid-term Elections: Change or Continuity?

December 4, 2006
Patrick Barrett

Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution

ACS Paper: Preserving and Expanding the Right to Vote: Ranked-choice Voting

December 3, 2006
David Cobb, Patrick Barrett and Caleb Kleppner

In this American Constitution Society white paper, Liberty Tree Fellows Patrick Barrett and David Cobb join Caleb Kleppner of Election Solutions in making the case for ranked-choice voting.

Summary:

The most widely used voting system in the Unites States, plurality voting, allows for a candidate that the majority opposes to be elected. While perhaps the most notable example of this occurred in the Florida presidential election in 2000, this situation happens not only on the federal level but in state and local elections as well.

Additional Information: 

The Barrett, Cobb, Kleppner ACS white paper is located on the American Constitution Society website here.

Z Magazine interviews Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap about Measure T

December 2, 2006

Last June voters in Northern California’s Humboldt County approved a ballot initiative that banned non-local corporate money in elections. The referendum, dubbed Measure T, also rejected corporate personhood, the legal doctrine that grants corporations the same rights and protections as persons. Measure T’s passage represents the most explicit challenge to corporate “rights” and political power in the country at this time.